Glamour has a new editor in chief: Samantha Barry, who comes from CNN, where she was the executive producer for social and emerging media at CNN Worldwide.
Barry takes over from Cindi Leive, who surprised Condé Nast last September by revealing her departure in an interview with The New York Times — the day before she told her staff.
In a long-awaited announcement on Monday morning, Condé Nast touted Barry’s digital — rather than editorial — skills.
“Sam is Glamour’s first digital-native editor, which is to say she arrives from the future rather than the past,” Condé Nast artistic director Anna Wintour said. “As an editor, she has led all manner of news coverage from the 2016 presidential election and the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting to the love story voicemails and the 2018 New Year’s Eve festivities. Sam understands social media as a tool for storytelling and reporting, a way to support social conversation and the ever-changing contours of what’s cool. Sam is fearless like so many leaders of the moment and has both a reverence for Glamour’s history and a crystal clear view of its future in the digital environment.”
“As we continue to innovate our content and distribution to reach next generation audiences, it is critical that our creators understand the symbiotic relationship between the audience, content and the best platforms to deliver each story and experience,” Condé Nast chief executive officer and president Bob Sauerberg said. “Samantha’s fluency in connecting with consumers in digital, social and video will give Glamour fans the content they love, and in ways that are most meaningful to them.”
Barry, 36, also touted her own digital media savvy.
“At the end of the day, I bring to the table being an expert in content,” Barry told The New York Times. “I also bring to the table the ability to pivot.
“I care about the brand and the magazine is a huge part of that brand,” she said when asked about print, while making a point of referring to it by the preferred term: “Glamour is a brand — it’s not just a magazine.”
The Irish-born Barry, who came to CNN in New York three years ago from BBC World News in London and has no background in print or women’s media, is an unexpected choice for what has been an eagerly anticipated appointment — but also, no doubt, an economical one since it’s likely that Barry is being paid much less than Leive. Many media observers thought that the position would go to Teen Vogue editor in chief Elaine Welteroth, although many names had been bandied around in the months since Leive revealed that she would step down, including long-shot rumors such as Lena Dunham and Eva Chen, the Instagram executive who has both digital media savvy and a strong background in print.
Glamour, once one of Condé Nast’s primary cash cows, has been struggling for the last few years as the publishing group overall has seen its revenues sharply decline — with reportedly a $100 million decline last year alone. The fall has forced Condé Nast to undergo yet another round of budget cuts and decrease print frequency of some titles. While Glamour’s overall circulation has held fairly steady since 2014 — at a little more than two million, newsstand sales have fallen by half, to just over 100,000, in the same three-year period.
So Barry may lack print experience, but she’s going to need to use her “ability to pivot” to the utmost in the months ahead.